Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 1984 Erica A. Marcus. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History Department

First Advisor

Robert S. DuPlessis


Marcus examines the origins of the Catholic cult of saints in the first four centuries A.D. through the lens of three individuals from different historical periods. Troubled by the Catholic religious elite’s promotion of the cult of saints, Marcus uses primary and secondary sources to understand the thinking of the elites St. Ambrose, Peter Brown, and Hippolyte Delehaye (a Bollandist). Each of these individuals has a different interpretation of the cult’s origins, and, for the most part, do not believe in the cult. This leads Marcus to ask the following question: why do member of the religious elite believe in the cult of saints, and if they do not, then why do they promote it?